The following web conferencing tools are commonly used at the University: Skype, Google Hangouts and Blackboard Collaborate. In this post we provide a quick comparison between the three tools with typical use cases. We have pulled together a more detailed feature comparison too:
- Skype vs Google Hangouts vs Blackboard Collaborate [Google Doc]
The feature comparison looks at key considerations such as: privacy, account requirements, number of participants, recording functionality and tool availability. All three work well on mobile with different limitations.
Skype is a popular program for video chat, with high quality audio and video, and software compatible with the widest number of platforms and devices. Skype requires a Skype or Microsoft Account. Skype is a third-party tool and it not bound by any service agreement, therefore please take note of the Guidance for Use of Third-Party Tools. The free version is what is compared here.
Typical use: voice/video chat and 1-to-1 presentations at a specific time.
Key limitations: Microsoft/Skype account required. Participant numbers.
Guides: Skype Website.
Google Hangouts is a browser-based video chat tool. Google Hangouts is available via your University of York Google Account and participants require a Google Account. You can also broadcast yourself using Hangouts On Air via YouTube/Google+ to make public recordings.
Typical use: voice/video chat, utilising existing Google circles/groups.
Key limitations: Google account required. Can be confusing to non-Google users, prompts to create Google+ account.
Blackboard Collaborate is an online seminar tool, with advanced interactivity and moderation features. Blackboard Collaborate is available currently through the Yorkshare VLE, but can be accessed by participants without need for any form of account. Blackboard Collaborate can record the whole session including file transfers, polls and text chat, as it appears to participants.
Typical use: structured teaching sessions, external access without login, interaction beyond text/chat.
Key limitations: audio quality poorer than Skype and Google Hangouts make it difficult to hear over speakers, headsets required.